Social Commentary In Literature – Tackling Discord
Never before has the voice of social commentary in literature sung higher. Freedom of speech has brought with it a cacophony of loudly spoken, written and sometimes harshly promoted opinion and judgement. Added to this is the rise of anti-discriminatory movements and Governmental Acts which clamour for fairness, equity and equality. An apparent discord between the two on occasion rears its ugly head, threatening workings towards peaceful solutions and human decency.
No longer is it possible, it seems, to adopt a purely neutral stance. Indeed, lack of support is oftentimes seen as evidence of a leaning towards the opposite opinion. So how is it possible to negotiate this difficult landscape in literature? Firstly, let us consider what social commentary is trying to do?
It is concerned initially with promoting awareness of issues within society, primarily to bring about some kind of change. This could be by appealing to people’s sense of justice, for instance. Often evidence is presented, or examples are given to highlight the need for change, and flaws in the status quo are presented in order to prevent these aspects of society from continuing. Still, further, persuasive language and compelling arguments are often employed to convince the other party.
As the saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth. We would be wise to listen and read without assumption, and not respond rashly. This involves truly considering and thinking about the other opinion, even if we hold strong beliefs of our own. By becoming informed about social issues we are not only acting in a responsible manner as a member of society, but we are also more likely to come to a reasonable and compassionate conclusion; one which considers all members of society and works for the benefit of all.
And if we are engaged in a personal ethical or societal conversation with another who holds a greatly differing opinion to our own? Do not become heated, agree to disagree, or if you must, simply leave the conversation. It is only by compassion and negotiation that humans, from the most powerful leaders in the world to two young children playing in a sandpit, can reach a happy medium and live in peace.
So when we consider social commentary in literature we should consider ourselves informed on a far greater level than ever before!